Rat Poison: A Short Introduction

Rat infestations can be tremendously damaging to both people’s property and health. In California, a rise in Typhus infections has been traced to an increase in the rat population in certain urban areas. Although rat poison should always be a last resort, when you have exhausted all other methods you are left with little choice.

Rat poisons themselves are a complicated subject, and there are broadly three different types. Each has different mechanisms for killing rodents, and as a result has a different impact on pets, children, and the wider environment.

In this review, we’ll discuss the main types, and help you choose the best rodenticide for your application. As we’ve mentioned previously, rat poison should always be a last resort, after you have exhausted other methods such as trapping, removal of food sources, and other non-poison methods.

Our Rat Poison Picks

Best For First Time

1. JT Eaton 704-PN Bait Block Rodenticide

Key Features

⤍ First-generation anticoagulant poison

⤍ Appealing formulation to rodents

⤍ Slower-acting formula diminishes the risk to the environment

⤍ Good value

Poison type: First-generation anticoagulant

Bait type: Bait blocks

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Our Take

JT Eaton’s 704-PN is what we call a first-generation anticoagulant rodenticide, which contains the active ingredient Diphacinone. While all rat poisons are problematic when ingested by other animals, first-generation anticoagulants like this are generally considered slightly less dangerous.

The reason for this is because the poison needs to be consumed in reasonably large quantities in order to kill the rodent, and then typically takes 2-4 days to kill them. This means the poison is less toxic than other options and is a good first poison to try. If pets consume it, vets are typically able to cure poisoning, and large amounts of the poison are excreted.

While this poison is a good first choice poison, it does have two downsides. Firstly, certain types of rats can become resistant to this poison. While this is not hugely common in the US, it has been noted in some areas. Secondly, because it is designed to act over several days, rats will continue to eat it for up to a week before you see results.

Generally, these two downsides are considered tolerable, however, due to the lower risk of unintentional lethal poisoning of pets and other animals, and the lower risk of secondary poisoning to natural predators and birds of prey.

Based on over a thousand positive reviews, this poison has been highly effective for many people, and we believe it is a good starting point in any campaign against your rats.

Best For Experienced Users

2. Motomco Tomcat Bait Chunx Pail

Key Features

⤍ Modern neurotoxin rat poison

⤍ Reduced risk of secondary poisoning

⤍ Kills Norway rats and other resistant rats

Poison type: Non-anticoagulant neurotoxin

Bait type: Bait blocks

Carton size: 4 lb.

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Our Take

Motomco’s Tomcat Bait Chunx is a different type of poison, which is designed for use in rural and agricultural areas. This formula uses a different type of active ingredient – Bromethalin, which is a neurotoxin.

This type of poison is noted for three main reasons. Firstly, it has a diminished risk of secondary poisoning to other animals. This means that hawks, foxes, pets, or other animals that eat any poisoned rodents face a lower risk of secondary poisoning – which is desirable in a rural setting.

The second point is this more modern toxin formulation is potent against rats who have become resistant to first-generation anticoagulants. Where Norway rats have been found (which are resistant to first-gen anticoagulants), this rat poison is a good choice.

Finally, this poison kills faster than other anti-coagulant types of poison, which can mean less product is required for effective rat termination. That means less re-baiting and results in 2-3 days after a lethal dose has been consumed.

Supported with thousands of positive reviews, this rat poison is a good alternative to first-generation anticoagulants such as 704 PN discussed previously. Where you have resistant rodents, this type of poison might be the best first port of call.

Easiest To Handle

3. Motomco Tomcat Mouse and Rat Pack/Pail

Key Features

⤍ Convenient pre-packed bait packs

⤍ Highly palatable to rodents

⤍ Reduced environmental risk

Poison type: First-generation anticoagulant

Bait type: Bait packs

Carton size: 22 x 3oz packs

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Our Take

Another first-generation anticoagulant rat poison, Tomcat Mouse and Rat Pack is offered in a slightly different format. Diphacinone is the active ingredient, which is a multi-dose anticoagulant.

Like many poisons of this type, the Tomcat Mouse and Rat Pack is a good starting-point poison. It features a diminished risk to pets and secondary poisoning but will take a little longer to kill mice and rats than a stronger toxin. Obviously, the stronger the toxin the more dangerous it is to work with, and Diphacinone strikes a balance that has performed well for many years.

This particular product features pellets in a small pack, which makes it very convenient to handle. You don’t have to touch to poison directly, as the packs are designed for rats to chew right through and into the poison. They also work great for slipping into confined spaces such as walls and roof areas.

Another strength of this type of poison is it’s high palatability to rodents. Because it takes a few days to kill the rodent, you might have to place second and third packs down, but the high desirability to rodents will turn out to help performance in the long run.

These packs also work well in damp or moist environments – particularly cellars and basements. When it comes to a rat poison delivered in an easy to handle format – this is a great choice as a first starting point.

4. Just One Bite II Rat & Mouse Bar

Key Features

⤍ Highly potent poison for resistant rats

⤍ High secondary and unintentional poisoning risk

⤍ Not suitable for use near children or pets

Poison type: Second-generation anticoagulant

Bait type: Bait bar

Carton size: 8 x 1lb bars

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Our Take

Moving now to more potent rat poisons, we have Just One Bite II, in the bait bar format. This poison is what is referred to as a second-generation anti-coagulant poison, containing the active ingredient Bromadiolone.

Second-generation anticoagulant poisons (SGARs) like this are a good option if you have rats that appear to be resistant to more common first-generation poisons such as those discussed previously. For warfarin resistant Norway rats or other types of exceptionally hardy rats, you might need to reach for these.

The increased potency of this poison means it should kill rats faster, and can kill them with a single dosage. This means you get more effective results, but like using a bazooka to kill a rat, you can get some collateral damage.

The main downsides to this poison are its increased impact on the wider environment. It is illegal to sell in California, due to the damage it has caused to hawks, owls, mountain lions, and other predators. The poison lingers in dead rodents, and in much higher quantities than first-generation poisons.

This risk is also extended to pets, who might be tempted to eat any dead or dying rats. Bromadiolone is extremely toxic to pets and children, and so should only be used within bait boxes and as an absolute last resort.

While it is positively reviewed for its potent performance, this rodenticide is very powerful and should only be used with extreme care and as an absolute last resort. In carries increased risk to children, pets, and other animals in the immediate environment.

5. Neogen Ramik Fish Flavored Weather Resistant Rodenticide Bars

Key Features

⤍ Weather-resistant & works well outdoors

⤍ Highly palatable fish formula

⤍ Diminished environmental risk

Poison type: First-generation anticoagulant

Bait type: Bait bar

Carton size: 4 x 16oz bars

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Our Take

Neogen’s Ramik Fish Flavored Rodenticide Bars are another twist on the bar format which is popular with a wide range of buyers. This particular product is based on a first-generation anti-coagulant poison, in this case, Diphacinone.

Neogen has used a food processing approach to improve the palatability and robustness of these bars in a wide range of conditions. Incorporating a fish flavor into the grain mix not only increases the near-term desirability to rodents – but it also has a long-lasting appeal than many other bait types. This helps the poison continue to be effective over subsequent days and weeks after the pack has been opened.

The weather resistance of this particular product is also notable – as it has been engineered to work well in wet and damp environments without the use of wax. Many other types of weather-resistant rat poisons use wax which can be messy to clean up. These hot-extruded bars keep their shape well in damp conditions, making them well suited to outdoor use.

As a first-generation rodenticide, this poison does require multiple doses to be effective and may require re-baiting to achieve a final result. While that can be disappointing to some buyers, it is actually beneficial as the less potent poison is not as deadly to pets and children. Secondary poisoning risk is also reduced in the wider environment.

If you are looking for a solid long-lasting first-generation product, then this is our top choice in the bar format. It carries all the benefits of FGAR, but in a highly palatable and weather-resistant format that is highly effective.

6. JT Eaton 750 Top Gun All Weather Rodenticide

Key Features

⤍ Highly palatable neurotoxin

⤍ Bittrex included deterring inhalation by kids

⤍ Increased risk to children and pets

Poison type: Non-anticoagulant neurotoxin

Bait type: Block

Carton size: 4 lbs.

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Our Take

JT Eaton’s 750 Top Gun rodenticide is another block format rat poison. This product incorporates a non-anticoagulant neurotoxin – Bromethalin – as its active ingredient. Like all non-anticoagulant poisons, this carries both benefits and drawbacks. Let’s take a look in closer detail.

The main benefit of this formula is that it kills rats faster than traditional anticoagulant formulas. This results in less poison being consumed, and so less re-baiting is required. In addition, this approach attempts to lower the risk of secondary poisoning when compared to second-generation anticoagulants. It is also particularly effective against rats who are resistant to warfarin and other first-generation poisons.

The drawback of this approach is increased toxicity towards pets and children. JT Eaton has attempted to reduce the risk to children specifically by incorporating Bittrex into the product, which should deter children from eating it in dangerous quantities. Nevertheless, the risk is still significant, and suitable precautions should always be taken – such as using a proper bait station with this product.

All in all, this is an effective alternative to first-generation anticoagulant poisons. By comparison, less poison is required to achieve the result, but the primary risk to pets and children is elevated compared to other options. Secondary poisoning risk to predators is slightly diminished.

7. Tomcat Titan Rodent Bait Station

Key Features

⤍ Sturdy indoor & outdoor bait station

⤍ Weighted model

⤍ 4 bait stations with metal rods

Our Rating

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Our Take

When using any rodenticide or rat poison, you should always take the necessary safety precautions to protect children, pets, and other natural animals. One of the best precautions you can take is to use a quality bait station to prevent children or pets from accessing your chosen poison.

Tomcat’s Titan rodent bait station is a well-designed and popular bait station and can be used with all types of rat poison. This design is aimed specifically at rats and other rodents and features an entry hole large enough to allow rats to enter. Once inside, they discover up to 8 chunks of rodent poison on 4 vertical rods. It also features a fast bait replace system: a removable tray safes time and labor when replacing bait. Unfortunately, bait is not included. However, the price is quite resonable for such a quality piece of kit!

The Tomcat station is designed to be durable – and features a very sturdy plastic construction. This allows it to be used outdoors without worries of sunlight or weather degradation, and reduced risk of damage from pets and other animals. It is also weighted, requiring no additional securing due to heavy pre-installed custom brick. This makes it trickier to pick up, which is safer for children and pets as they are unlikely to be able to move it. It will also stay firmly in place. 

If you aren’t already using bait boxes with your rat poison, this is an excellent choice. With sturdy construction and good design, you can be confident of its ability to keep the rat poison away from children and pets.

8. Kat Sense Rat Bait Station

Key Features

⤍ Robust polypropylene structure

⤍ Handy wall mount

⤍ Fits both pellets and block baits

Our Rating

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Our Take

Kat Sense’s Rat Bait Station is another high-quality bait station option, which features a number of standout features. This particular model is aimed at rats and other rodents, so the holes are large enough to allow both mice and rats to enter the trap.

Manufactured from polypropylene, this is a sturdy bait station that is well suited to indoor and outdoor use. The walls are solid, and the product feels well-constructed.

The design features a number of clever features, starting with the optional wall mount bracket. For people who tend to kick their traps, or find them moved around the garage or area where they are located, then this option to secure the trap will be welcome. Entry to the trap is available at both ends, and the trap fits neatly up against the wall to accommodate rodents’ tendency to travel along wall lines.

Inside, there are baffles to prevent pets from accessing the poison, which will prevent kid’s hands from reaching in as well. This extra layer of defense is very helpful in keeping unwanted things out of the trap!

The Kat Sense Bait station features the ability to work with both pellet and block baits, and you can use securing rods to hold your bait in place. These are compatible with many different types of block baits and will allow you to work with your preferred option.

All in all, this is another great option for a bait station to go along with your rat poison. Using a station like this will make you much more confident when using more potent poisons such as those discussed in this review.

9. Tomcat Rat Snap Trap

Key Features

⤍ Powerful mechanical rat trap

⤍ Reliable alternative to poison

⤍ Simple to set and bait

Our Rating

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Our Take

Before you begin using any poison, you should always attempt to use other methods such as traps to resolve your rat issue. Whilst effective, any pest professional will confirm that poisons add additional complications as they can poison pets and children. They can even cause secondary poisoning to wildlife.

Tomcat’s Rat Snap Trap is designed specifically with rats in mind. It comes with a number of features to ensure the job is done effectively. The powerful spring is designed to kill rats instantly and is coupled to serrated jaws for maximum potency.

The trigger system is easy to set, and still offers a high degree of sensitivity to the pressure plate design. The bait cup is integrated into the pressure plate – to ensure that rodents aren’t able to reach the bait without setting off the trap. The bait is secured in place using an optional bait cup, which can be used with popular gel bait systems.

If you need to try a manual approach, then Tomcat’s trap is one of the best out there. You don’t have to deal with power or battery issues, and rodents are not kept alive as they are in other trap designs.

10. MDX Concepts Mice & Rat Repellent

Key Features

⤍ Environmentally friendly rodent repellent

⤍ Very cost effective

⤍ Works on rats & mice

Our Rating

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Our Take

For those looking to another alternative to poison, MDX Concept’s Rat & Mice repellent is a popular product. This is a spray odor, which contains a very strong peppermint which rodents strongly dislike.

We always recommend using products like this or mechanical traps before rat poison, for many of the reasons discussed in this article. Not only is it a very low-cost alternative, but it also causes almost no collateral damage.

Buyers seem to be very keen on the results – so we definitely suggest you give it a go before you reach for the rat poison. Some might call it quirky, but we call it smart.

What To Consider When Choosing Rat Poison

When choosing an appropriate rat poison there are many things to take into account. First and foremost, poison should always be a last resort, because it poses risks to children, pets, and the wider environment. If you need to manage the weeds in your lawn then a lawn weed killer is the answer.

You should always attempt to use other methods to address rat problems first. For example by removing food sources and using mechanical traps. If you do need to use rat poison, then there are several factors to consider, which we’ll discuss below.

Bait Stations & Safety

All rat poisons are toxic, obviously, they have been designed to be. It’s important to consider safety when working with them. Always use gloves when handling rat poisons – not just for safety but also because your human scent will render them undesirable to rodents. Wash your hands when you are finished handling them, and always read the instructions fully.

You should always use bait stations when working with rat poisons. These help to protect the poison from the elements and given the rodents a place to consume the poison. Most importantly, however, they prevent pets and children from coming into contact with or consuming the poison. Always use pet and childproof bait stations.

Finally, you should be watchful for any dead rodents after you have placed poison. Always remove these by hand, and place them in the trash. Secondary poisoning (where something eats a poisoned rodent) can occur to pets and wildlife, and even the less potent first-generation anticoagulants such as Diphacinone pose a serious secondary poisoning risk to pets.

Types of Rat Poison (Rodenticide)

There are three main types of rat poison or rodenticide, and all have unique characteristics. Let’s take a look at each in more detail. For an even more in-depth comparison, see the National Pesticide Information Center’s Guide here.

1. First-generation Anticoagulants (FGARs)

All these types of poisons work in the same way: by causing massive internal hemorrhaging to the animal. They act by thinning the blood and preventing it from coagulating. The most famous of this group is warfarin, which – unbelievably – is also occasionally used in medical treatments as a blood thinner for humans. Consumed in large quantities, however, it is extremely toxic.

The important thing to remember with these poisons is that they take multiple days of feeding to act on the rodent. The rodent will die shortly after. This may sound counter-intuitive – but it is by careful design to reduce risk to humans, wildlife, and pets. Consumed in small quantities, animals can survive, which helps to prevent accidental poisoning.

2. Second-generation Anticoagulants (SGARs)

This group of poisons works in the same way as FGARs, but it is much more potent, and consequently much more controversial. SGARs only need to be consumed once in order to poison the animal and therefore pose a significant risk to pets, children, and other wildlife.

They also pose a significant secondary poisoning risk, because rodents tend to eat enough to make their bodies highly toxic before they die. This means that any birds, pets, or wildlife that subsequently consume a toxic rodent carcass can itself be poisoned.

They are banned for residential sale in California, and should always be a last resort for anyone purchasing a rodenticide. Try everything else before you use one, use a bait station, and only use it for the minimum possible time period.

3. Non-anticoagulants

There is a third group of rat poisons that is a bit of a catch-all for any other type of poison. The most widely found among this group are the neurotoxins, which attack the rodents’ nervous system. Since some rats are resistant to FGARs, this group is an attempt to create an alternative to SGARs.

Generally, these are still very potent and pose a particular risk to pets and children. This is because they can kill with a single dose. Although the science is limited, it appears they do reduce the risk of secondary poisoning. Therefore they represent an improvement from that point of view.

Blocks, Bars, or Pellets

Rat poison comes in a variety of formats to suit various different needs. Our preferred choice is blocked because they can be well secured within protective bait stations. Bars offer similar benefits, but in theory, require re-baiting less frequently. Pellets are generally considered less safe because they can be easily consumed by birds, pets, and children.

Primary Poisoning

Primary poisoning is the term used to describe the poisoning of whatever directly consumes the poison, in this case, the rodent. It can also affect pets, children, and wildlife, however, and you should be mindful of that risk. Generally, SGARs and Non-anticoagulants pose the highest risk of unintentional primary poisoning, and should always be protected within a bait station.

Secondary Poisoning

Secondary poisoning refers to the poisoning of an animal that occurs as a result of consuming a poisoned rodent. This affects wildlife and birds, but also pet cats and dogs too. SGARs pose the highest risk of secondary poisoning, and you should be very careful when using them. Whatever poison you use, you should always remove and dispose of any rodent carcasses you discover. One bobcat in South Carolina died from secondary poisoning from a range of rodenticides.

Buyer’s Guide FAQs

What is the best poison to kill rats?

The best poison to kill rats is always the least potent poison that can get the job done. This is because it poses the least risk to children, pets, and wildlife. Generally, we believe a first-generation anticoagulant is the best starting point, for example, JT Eaton’s 704-PN. If, after several weeks, that is ineffective, then you can try a Non-anticoagulant. This is a much more potent and dangerous poison, such as Motomco Tomcat Bait Chunx. Finally, if that doesn’t work, then a second-generation anticoagulant, the most harmful poison is your last resort. Use these extremely carefully, though.

How long does it take to kill a rat with poison?

Generally, 2-5 days, depending on the type of poison. This is baked in for safety reasons. It helps prevent lethal accidental poisoning. The latest group of Non-anticoagulant neurotoxins, such as Bromethalin kills rodents faster than traditional poisons such as warfarin.

What happens to rats when they eat poison?

It depends largely on the type of poison they consume. The most common type of poison is an anticoagulant, which thins the rodents’ blood and causes massive internal hemorrhaging. Non-anticoagulant poisons include neurotoxins that attach to rodents’ nervous systems. Other types produce toxic gases inside the rats’ bodies.

Is there a safe rat poison?

No type of rat poison is safe, and all are toxic by design. Some are less dangerous than others. There are also alternative solutions deemed to be safer. One such solution is MDX Concepts Mice & Rat Repellent. This uses non-toxic natural ingredients to create a scent that rodents can’t stand. This product has been highly effective for many people, keeping rats away for good.

What is the strongest rat poison?

The strongest rat poisons are the second-generation anticoagulants and the non-anticoagulants. Products such as Motomco Tomcat Bait Chunx and Just One Bite II are two examples on the market. These poisons are extremely potent and pose significant risks to children, pets, and local wildlife. They should be used as a last resort after all other means have been exhausted.

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